Hofstra celebrates 10th annual St. Baldrick's Day
Stylists from Hofstra's HX Salon shaved the heads of nine participants in an effort to raise money for childhood cancer research. Photo courtesy of Rob Kinnaird/ Hofstra Chronicle
Nine members of the community had their heads publicly shaved in the David S. Mack Student Center atrium to raise awareness and money for childhood cancer on Wednesday, April 4, and a lively crowd gathered to show support. This year, the group was able to raise over $22,600 for St. Baldrick’s Foundation.
This year marks the 10th consecutive year that Hofstra has sponsored “St. Baldrick’s Day,” an event hosted by the Hofstra Roller Hockey team to raise money for St. Baldrick’s Foundation. The organization funds research and treatment for childhood cancer by encouraging volunteers to “rock the bald” and participate in an extraordinary display of childhood cancer awareness.
“Eleven years ago I had hair down to my shoulders and wanted to get rid of it. I saw that a friend online had shaved his head for St. Baldrick’s, so I decided I wanted to do it too,” said Thomas Kostiw, Hofstra alumnus and event host. “My hockey team thought it was a cool event so we decided to bring it to Hofstra 10 years ago. Along the way we had so many members of the Hofstra community, both staff and students, who wanted to get involved and help it grow to what it is today – raising money for a great cause.”
Leading up to the shave, participants and other volunteers dedicate their time to collecting donations from friends, family and other supporters.
“It really is an amazing cause,” said roller hockey team member and senior criminology major, James Reilly. “I’ve learned that two out of the last four cancer treatment drugs passed by the FDA were fundraised by the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.”
Sydney Brancaccio, a 15-year-old high school student from Rockville Center, spoke at the event in honor of her 10-year-old sister, Gabrielle, who had been diagnosed with a malignant tumor in her eye at just two months old. She has been cancer-free for nine years.
“It’s very special that people who may not even relate to any cancer struggles come out to support us,” Brancaccio said. “It makes me very proud.”
Each of the participants have their own unique reasons behind their decision to take part in the shave.
“I’m an elementary school teacher, so I have kids in my room every day that I can’t imagine going through some of the things that kids with cancer have to go through,” Kostiw said. “I’m trying to do what I can to prevent them from going through that.”
“I have a niece and nephew who mean a lot to me. They’ve been lucky enough to not have suffered from children’s cancer, but there’s nothing saying that they won’t in the future,” said longtime volunteer and former participant Gabriella Muñoz, an MBA student at Hofstra. “I’d rather donate now and help raise money now rather than when it’s too late.”
Another of this year’s participants included Matt Ketchum, who was formally knighted onstage to recognize his 10th consecutive year as a top donor and participant, raising over $2,600 this year alone.
Ketchum sat alongside his father and nine-year-old participant, Al, as hairdressers from HX Salon performed the shave.
All nine participants, from all different walks of life, left the stage beaming after their turn under the razor, now accompanied by not only a freshly shaved head, but also by the gratification of being able to raise awareness for a worthy cause.
“There are so many children out there who are suffering, and I just think it’s something that people should be aware of,” Muñoz said. “There aren’t enough donations specifically for children’s cancer research, and I think that it definitely deserves more recognition.”